By Michael Kinney
Caleb Kelly is a veteran of the Oklahoma Spring game. Before the junior linebacker even became a member of the Sooners he had attended three of the annual events as one OU’s prized recruits.
Despite that, even Kelly has to admit this weekend’s festivities will be a special time for the large group of recruits converging on Norman for the Red and White Spring Game Saturday at Memorial Field.
“They are definitely pumping it up this year,” Kelly said. “Back when I was coming, there wasn’t an actual a difference between white and red team and how it is split up this year. There weren’t different guys coming back from the league as guest coaches. It’s just way cooler I feel like this year. Now it’s like a big, big day for all the recruiting. I was kind of one of the only recruits who came to the spring game back then. They named off all the guys who had recruits and there is like 30 or 40 kids. It’s blown up for sure.”
– While much of what is going to take place will seem like it is geared toward the current members of the Sooners and the fans, in actuality, the people Oklahoma want to impress the most are the recruits.
According to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, this weekend is more than just getting to spend time around some of the top high school players in the country. It’s laying the groundwork for what the coaches hope will become something bigger.
“We have a lot of players coming in. It’s going to be fun,” Stoops said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a chance at a great start at building a relationship with kids and being able to articulate with you on what they see, players they meet. Just builds a stronger connection as you move forward. We will see how it works. I don’t think anybody knows how it’s going to play out. But we’re awfully excited about the players we have coming in. We’re trying to build those relationships as quickly as possible.”
– It’s not just the coaches who will be playing a big part in trying to convince the recruits that Oklahoma is the school for them. The current Sooners will carry the large brunt of that duty.
Sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray is taking that job rather seriously.
“I just try and let guys know just how it is here from my perspective,” Murray said. “They hear what the coaches tell them and all the other recruiting stuff that you hear all over the country. I just try and tell them the coaches here are genuine and they mean what they say. Everything that they are preaching to you, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And there’s not one coach on this staff that’s not going to care about you. I believe that with all my heart and I just try and preach that to the guys just from a player’s perspective, so they can know that somebody like me, that’s playing here, has the same view.”
– While there is excitement surrounding the game and hosting the recruits, the Oklahoma coaches are curious to see how it will play out. With the new early signing days and early recruiting visits, this is a whole new ball game for them.
“This is different,” Stoops said. “You’re going to have three different types. You’ll have prospects you signed, prospects you haven’t signed and prospects who are here on official visits. So, it’s going to be busy. But you’re here doing this anyhow. It will just make more interaction. So you just blend them together and hopefully they hit it off with each other.”
Michael Kinney is aFreelance Content Writer with EyeAmTruth.com